10 Best // Closet Helpers

February 27, 2014

you want to know the main thing that'll help your closet?  getting rid of stuff.  you don't have to organize it if it doesn't exist!  but for the things you do want to get organized, here's my picks for keeping your closet tidy.

(most of these links are to the container store.  i don't get anything if you click them, i just shop there a lot so i know their merchandise the best.  you can find all of these things easily at other places like target, bed bath and beyond, amazon, etc.)

matching, thin hangers. i cannot say enough for matching hangers.  if you do nothing else but buy all the same style and color hangers, your closet will instantly look better.  i prefer the thin beige ones because they look more streamlined and it just appears neater (and i never have issues with things falling off the hangers or with the hangers leaving marks in the shoulders.)  i ordered mine for a great deal on ebay, but they're widely available.

shoe organizer.  i have the mesh stands like this.  i don't like the tiered one because, even though i do own high heels, most of my shoes are flats and i don't want two styles of shoe organizers.  these fit all types of shoes and you can just keep stacking away.  it works for me because, while i love the look of the boxes with the windows all stacked up, it's just not practical for me.  because i'm lazy.

purse organizer.  i love this back of the door organizer, it would work great in the closet.  i've also seen ones that hang in your closet and gives each purse a cubby hole.  personally, mine all fit in the bottom dresser drawer because i don't have many and i have so few clothing items that i actually have an extra drawer.  (jealous?) but remember, don't ever hang purses with stuff still inside them, you'll ruin the handles a lot faster that way!

drawer dividers.  the best way to keep your socks/underwear/bras orderly is to arrange them how you see in a store (think victoria's secret.)  dividers are the best way to do this.  my dresser has two top smaller drawers.  in one, i line up bras just like at vs.  in the other, i use these dividers like these to keep socks and underwear in a neat little row.  if you tend to be messy in other drawers as well, you can use extendable dividers for t-shirts, tanks, pjs, etc.

shelf dividers.  since i live in a rental, i can't make closet modifications like i'd like to to make the space above the top shelf the most efficient.  so i settle for shelf dividers.  in the photo it's used to keep purses upright but i stack sweatshirts and jeans up there, and the dividers make sure the stacks stay neat and don't topple over.

boot shapers.  these go inside your tall boots so they keep their shape and don't get creases or flop over in your closet.  this particular one also has a hook so you can hang them.

belt rack.  this hangs easily in the closet, taking up minimal space (my only exception to the matching hanger rule) allowing the belts and scarves to be on display and without weird kinks and curls you can never get fixed.  (as you can see below, i also hang wristlets from it.)

jewelry organizer.  i definitely love those boxes but i don't keep a lot of jewelry around.  i don't wear it enough to justify having a ton of pieces.  i'm able to hang everything on the cork board you see below.  (yes, that's my entire jewelry collection.)  i bought the fabric covered cork board at target and use clear pushpins to hang everything, and i would love to get this stand for my everyday items.  i love hanging them because it feels like artwork while still being functional, and you can always go bigger with your cork board for a large jewelry collection.

extending rod.  personally, i don't have enough clothes to warrant an extension rod, but many women can benefit from this in order to best maximize their space.  it hangs from your existing rod so you can double hang short items like tops, skirts, and folded pants.

a (nice) laundry hamper.  the more nicely it fits in with your decor while still being functional, the more likely you are to use it and not toss dirty clothes onto the floor.

ready for my closet? (aka proof these items are in action?)  i know the lighting sucks, ya know, closet.  but you get the idea.  and yes, i should own stock in vs.  yes, my colored shoes are all pink or green and i stacked them as such.  yes, the dog photobombed me.

also, this may not be sponsored, but seriously container store - look how many of your products are in my closet.  if you'd ever like to kick me back a gift card, that'd be cool.


February 26, 2014

beadquest is an annual bead collecting mardi gras themed bar crawl.  it happens to be my favorite of the whole year.  i know it's blasphemy for a tbox regular like myself to prefer any bar crawl over tbox - but it's true.  beadquest is better.

this year i was able to drag john and his brother eric with me.  and by drag, i mean i just mentioned booze and beads and they leapt at the chance to go with me.

the premise of beadquest is that you bar crawl for 9 hours, collecting a different colored and numbered bead each hour at the next bar.  you win things if you collect all nine, like cubs tickets, gift certificates to bars, and mostly, the extreme pride of a job well done.

the actual result of beadquest however, without tara there to remind you to stick to the schedule, is that you get stuck at one bar really early in the afternoon, drunk on giant fishbowls, and forget you're supposed to be on a mission to get beads.  instead you park it at a table and order a giant fishbowl for yourself (because sharing is for suckers), play drinking card games, and completely forget to eat food or drink water because duh the ice in your fishbowl is water.

don't worry, i paid for this decision on sunday.  i really need to start remembering 'blue is bad' when it comes to ordering drinks but i cannot help myself.  i mean, it came with a giant sparkler for crying out loud.  i needed it.  did i need it at 3 in the afternoon?  probably not.

but it is mardi gras, after all!  who needs new orleans anyway?

Putting Yourself First

February 25, 2014

as an only child, and as a scorpio, it's extremely easy for me to put myself first.  i don't have that innate quality that a lot of women have that tells them to put others first.  whether you refer to that as 'motherly instinct' or another term, it's simply something i've never had.  women tend to make sure others are feeling okay or having a good time, put those oxygen masks on their kids before themselves, defer to their significant others on where to eat or what to do on a sunday.  i am so solidly not in that category.  oh you don't have an opinion on something?  that's fine, because i do and i'm happy to share it with you.  i do what i want, when i want, where i want, how i want, and i always have.  you can join me or you can go on your merry way, your choice is no sweat off my back.

it's hard to be in a relationship with a my way or the highway attitude.  as reflected in my string of failed relationships, obviously (kidding, relax, i don't really think that, i know i dated some assholes.)  but i know i can be hard to be with.  even my friends can attest to my stringent friendship terms, because at this point they've all been tested and passed with flying colors.  those that have gotten the boot will tell you in 2 seconds flat what a bitch i am.  because of this attitude, i tend to surround myself with people who i refer to as 'laid back' and who my mother refers to as 'doormats.'  she thinks meredith is my best friend because i can boss her around.  (untrue, we've been besties for 18 years, wouldn't she be sick of me?)

yes, i like to be in control.  always.  i also like to win, always.  john allows this but only to an extent, which i think is why get along so well.  previous boyfriends were complete and total doormats, and i got bored, fast.  i already have a puppy, i don't need two.  john lets me pick what we do and where we go, but is steadfast on picking his own clothes, not letting me drive his truck, and making sure we attend family parties.  most of the time he's so laid back, i try to make my best efforts to put him first.  this does not come naturally.  but i do try at it and he hasn't complained yet.

have you taken the love languages test?  my love language is 'acts of service' which means i think you love me when you do stuff for me like take out the trash and let me drag you to weddings even i don't want to be at.  john's is 'words of affirmation' which means he feels loved when i tell him i think it's awesome how hard he works and how nice it is every time he goes over to do housework for his grandma.  (i suspect it's because his family just expects this of him and doesn't say thank you.  he needs to feel appreciated.)

i don't really know what the point of this post was.  but that's what my once a month wednesdays are for, typing without thinking.  and i think, mostly, i just wanted to tell you about how controlling and bossy i am.  and how good i am at it.  #onlychildproblems

what's your love language?  do you put everyone else before yourself?  is that a girl thing i just fail at?

5 Reasons Blogging Is A Funny Thing

February 24, 2014

obviously i do a lot each day with this little space.  and i talk about it of course - i gchat with betsy, i email with helene.  we talk about blog design, post ideas, upcoming outings and crafts to feature on our blogs.  and i do so love blog talk so it can be so hard to switch gears and talk to non-bloggers because i feel and hear myself jumping in with things they just don't understand.

i have friends i've never met.  with john, he's gotten on board with the whole blogging thing but at first he was very confused.  he has a pug, so i was telling him about 'my friend stephanie' who had two pugs and then adopted a 3rd a little black one.  he was so confused.  my friend?  how did i know her?  but... she doesn't live here?  but you've never been to philly?  you've never met her?  all true john, but she's still my friend (he laughed when i got her christmas card, but he loved the pug photos.)  i do understand the confusion though.

i use words others don't know.  blogger, pinteresting, link up, gomi, blate, bloglovin, no reply blogger.  i think i also overuse the phrase 'i have to take a photo of this, it's for the blog.'

i have a 101 in 1001 list.  sure, this isn't exclusive to blogging.  but... isn't it?  i know a few nonbloggers who have one, but most have bucket lists or another way of keeping track.  or they don't keep track at all and instead say 'one day i'll visit paris.'  101 in 1001 is just so blog.  tara even made a list, then made a blog to keep track of her list (she doesn't ever update it though... ahem.)

i convince people to start blogs.  i think that's true of most hobbies - if you love it, you try to make other people love it.  i got betsy, tara, and now natalie on board.  megan is almost there.

i speak tumblr.  tumblr is a form of blogging for sure, but just having any type of blog means you spend way too much time on tumblr (gif collecting of course.)  natalie gchatted me "so busy" and i responded with "such important."  you'd only get it if you spent way too much time on tumblr and know exactly what doge is.

what else is my list missing?  do your non-blogger friends look at you strangely when you start speaking 'blog'?

10 Best // Ways To Avoid People

February 20, 2014

cooking: homemade sweet potato crust pizza.  can i do it?  i don't know.  but i can try!  or someone can make it and bring me some?!

cocktails: make a cocktail according to your star sign. i happen to love mine (scorpio) it's actually my go to drink.  i even recommended it back on steph's post.  apparently my star sign drew me to it!  what's your drink?

netflix: netflix is clearly the best way to enjoy a weekend.  instant watch is only $8 a month and if i didn't get cable free with my building, i would have cancelled it by now in favor of netflix.  no commercials.  currently, i'm watching dexter with john.  when he's not around, i watch the west wing and say yes to the dress/say yes to the dress bridesmaids.  people are crazy and it never stops being funny!

online shopping: ugh, niki sucked me in with news of the nordstrom's 40% off shoe sale.  it is currently 20 degrees in chicago on a good day and i ordered sandals.  i couldn't help myself!  any other sales going on i need to check out?

reading: aukele's the brave dame series.

organizing: i love when people spend the weekend purging their closets.  if you haven't tried it yet, i highly recommend it because it's such a freeing feeling.  i've done it so often, because it'll probably take more than once, that i have nothing left to purge (maybe a top or two) and now i'm moving on to really minimizing my wardrobe even more and doing something of a capsule wardrobe like hayley, author of the no brainer wardrobe, has recommended.

pinterest:  speaking of which, i've been pinning lots of style ideas (because that's what hayley recommends in her e-book and her 31 days series) so i can see what my personal style is and what elements keep repeating that i might need to purchase to fill any holes in my wardrobe.  and also how to pack 3 weeks of outfits in 1 carry on!! gotta love pinterest!  follow me if you don't already and leave me your link so i can find you!

learning:  kelli has a ton of tips and tutorials for blogging related business.  like this free post writing tool.  and while you're there, learn about the great things that come with signing your kid up for martial arts!

diy:  i'm not usually ever a diy type person.  if someone sells it, i'd rather just buy it.  but i saw these 'man crates' which look awesome but not for the price, because they do come with etched glasses.  i think i can do this one myself (minus the glasses) for john's little brother's birthday.  a box full of craft beer and snacks all his own is just up his alley.

happy weekend!

Chicago // Girl's Night Out

February 19, 2014

of course after i talked about date night in chicago, i had to follow it up with my favorite activity - girl's night out.

fancy fun.  i'm a dive bar girl at heart, i really am.  but there is the occasional blue moon when i want to wear a dress and high heels and sip fancy martinis whose ingredients i'm not entirely sure on.  for those types of nights, i recommend you don your fancy clothes and try pops for champagne for the fanciest cheese curds you've ever seen (oh and other things ya know like champagne!) or bin 36 for wine tasting.

piano bars.  karaoke will never stop being fun for me, but sometimes i'm content just watching the show.  the dueling pianos at howl at the moon never disappoint.  the shows are always hilarious and full of songs you know.  and most importantly, they serve drinks in giant buckets with huge straws.  you can't argue with giant buckets full of cocktail.  and if you still want to karaoke yourself, it's right down the street from blue frog 22 where you can sing your heart out.

martinis and manicures.  perfect for a girls night, beauty bar and flirty girl fitness offer cocktails while you get pampered.  beauty bar turns into a real bar/club later in the evening (they do manis til 11 p.m.!), while flirty girl offers pole dancing classes.  i really don't see a downside with either option!

drinks and dancing.  the mid. club club club.  lots of dancing and fancy djs.  normally, clubs are not for me and i can name 23 off the top of my head in chicago that i hate and are totally underage and gross.  but the mid is decent because it's so huge.  it's clean so that makes me happy and it's also in the west loop so it's not so blatantly full of 19 year olds.  it's also about 5 blocks from my apartment, so you can come pre-drink at my place any time.  (because you don't go to a club sober.)

dancing plus.  it's also pretty clubby little place but lumen right down the street from me, about a block from the mid.  there's dancing and lots of fancy bottle service but the plus part?  mostly i recommend this place for girl's night because every friday and saturday, from 8 to 10 (before the 'club' opens), they host hunk-o-mania.  you're welcome.

and personally, i also recommend wherever stache is going to be playing.  that's where i'd be!  what do you like to do on a girl's night out?

College Versus Adult Parties

February 17, 2014

i really love planning themed parties.  i think i've had parties for just about every holiday now - christmas, new years, st. pattys, halloween - plus every randomly themed bar crawl like bar golf and beer olympics.  i've been trying to think of what my next party should be and i realized just how much more planning would have to go into it than any of the parties my roommate and i hosted in college.  apparently, you're suddenly an adult after college and have to start planning adult-like parties.  why? because:

-apparently there's an age cutoff for keeping a keg in the bathtub.

-likewise, there's also one for keg stands.  (though i refuse to accept an age cutoff for kegs in general, because, tailgating.)

-solo cups are no longer acceptable, unless of course they're in themed colors and decorated.

-you have to serve real food.  sure you can still get away with chips in a bowl, but now you have to include cocktail meatballs, mini quiches, fancy feta dip, and something wrapped in bacon.  i can't drunk bake pizza at 1 am with bacon bits on top and call it 'after party' any more.

-you have to provide decent alcohol.  and alcohol, period.  can't tell people byob anymore and you certainly can't serve natty ice or hawkeye vodka.

ben missed that memo at his tailgate, but we were pleased.

-tara and i have met people who don't know how to play slap the bag.  this never happened in college.  don't worry, we'll teach you.

-there has to be entertainment.  thank goodness for cards against humanity, because in college we just drank and listened to music way too loud.  and played a lot of flippy cup.

-some people have told me there's a cutoff for serving jello shots as well, but i don't listen to them.

i also have to worry about people - where they'll sleep, giving them blankets and such if they stay over, making sure they get cabs... it's exhausting.  i miss the good old fashioned keg parties.

10 Best // Life Lately

February 13, 2014

1. my student loans are all paid off!!!! all of them.  from over $65k to $0.  zero dollars owed, people.  nothing could be more exciting to me right now.  i have a little debt in other places (bill me later and a credit card) but that should be gone by the end of the month and then i will have no debt and then i'll throw a party.  which is probably the antithesis of being debt free... i should rethink that...

2. got to meet up with mary for a drinks blate at the dawson.  we're bad bloggers and didn't take photos, we were busy taste testing all their fun beers.  but i do love hanging out with mary, she's awesome.

3. my friend natalie started a blog.  i didn't even only a little bit peer pressured her!  and we were able to get together and discuss blogging details over cocktails.  (and of all the pictures i could have chosen to post of the two of us, she should be 0% surprised i picked this one.)  obviously, you're going to love her.

p.s. we're not rocking out to an actual rock song.  it was either spice girls or nsync.  we were 'studying for finals.'

4. john actually ordered the royal rumble for me (wwe pay per view.  yes, fake wrestling. it's my favorite), and watched it with me.  and liked it and predicted the winner.  best boyfriend ever.  but cm punk better not leave the wwe, or i'll be really upset.  and if royal rumble wasn't a highlight of your month, you're missing out.

5. i eat like a king after christmas, seriously.  my dad always gets gift cards to chicago restaurants for christmas (which he doesn't use because he's weird and won't use gift cards) so he gives them to me!  something about using a gift cards makes me all "what's the most expensive thing?  i'll have that!  and 7 martinis!  with top shelf vodka!"  anyone else?  it's like free money.  but also, that means january is my fat month and now i need to get back to meal planning.

6. i helped my mom get organized.  long story but a bunch of stuff has changed in my dad's office (they both work there) and it was chaos for awhile.  so i spent a saturday there organizing things and, although everyone thinks i'm nuts, it was an awesome day.  i love finishing an organization project.  and changing half burned out light bulbs in the exit signs so they all finally match and my ocd can rest.  we're also almost done with her photos which is huge.

7. it's valentine's day!  too many people are bitter about it.  not me!  i love any excuse to dress up and eat/drink in theme and this day is no exception.  it's not my favorite holiday (duh, halloween) but i still like it and we're going to a nice dinner tonight at my favorite italian restaurant.

8. tomorrow (saturday) i'll be over at sarah's blog talking all about how i did this:

9. 101 in 1001 list progress - student loans paid off, fully decorated my apartment, made all the drinks on my cocktails pinterest board (the various sangrias with peaches are my favorite), taught hawkeye 'high five' and 'kiss' and she's in the process of perfecting her 'thriller' move for halloween.  she has no idea how to sit, but she can twirl and do the zombie arm move and i think those are way more important.  now, i realize you don't care much about my list and aren't keeping track but this means i'm officially at 51 out of 101 thing done.  that's halfway, folks.  nothing checked off in 'travel' and only one in 'finances' but hey.  at least i recognize my weaknesses.  i have just over 2 years to complete the rest of my tasks, which i'm going to need to save money for all that travel.

10. hawkeye.  i booked her hotel room for her birthday.  she's clearly very excited.

Cocktail Cupcakes // Chocolate Raspberry Martini

February 12, 2014

people have a love-hate relationship with valentine's day.  either way is fine, do with the holiday what you wish (but please dispense with all that 'it's a holiday made up by hallmark' nonsense.  it's not.  not anymore than christmas is.)  but in all reality, i really don't care how you feel about this holiday.  the important thing is, people don't have any sort of hate relationship with chocolate and raspberry cupcakes especially when they're packed full of vodka.  make them for your husband, make them for your mom, make them for yourself, or pull a stephanie and say you're making them for your boyfriend but actually eat them all yourself.  makes no difference to me and it shouldn't to you either, because 12 cupcakes later you'll be drunk and happy.

cupcake ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1.5 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup warm water
2 ish tablespoons vodka (plain is fine, so is flavored like three olives chocolate or absolut raspberry)

combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (first 5).  add the butter, egg and milk and beat with an electric mixer for about 1 minute.  slowly add the water and vodka and mix another minute or two until smooth.  pour into your lined cupcake tin and bake at 350 degrees for around 20 minutes.  bowl licking is acceptable, salmonella be damned because vodka kills germs. cool the cakes completely.

filling ingredients:
raspberry preserves (1/2 cup or less, depends how full you want the cakes)
vodka (again, depends how much filling. anywhere from 2 teaspoons to 2 tablespoons)

cut the cores out of the cupcakes.  there's real tools for this but i use the cap off of an ez squeeze cheese bottle.  seriously.  eat the cores.  then just mix preserves and vodka together, but don't let it get to liquid-y or it will leak out of the cupcake cores.  then fill your cakes!

frosting ingredients:
2 sticks room temperature unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar
2 tablespoons vodka
3 tablespoons raspberry puree

puree the raspberry preserves you have left over from the filling.  this means beat them in a blender and then use a sifter of some sort to strain out the seeds and chunky pieces.  seeds = harder to spread frosting.  beat the butter for 3 minutes with an electric mixer.  add powdered sugar and beat on low until it's all mixed.  add the vodka and raspberry puree and beat until it's light and fluffy.

    frost the cupcakes.  take a photo.  eat all the cupcakes.  destroy photo so no proof exists that there were ever any cupcakes.  if you have a heavy hand with the booze like i do and pretty much doubled those numbers, eating all the cupcakes = 6 shots of vodka.  just saying.  happy valentine's day indeed.

    Get Organized // Menu Planning

    February 11, 2014

    i have a new found love for menu planning, i really really do.  nothing makes me eat healthier than menu planning.  i used to just 'see how i felt' at 5 pm and decide from there what i wanted for dinner.  i'd pretend that i would feel like greek food, so i'd come home, make a greek salad, egg lemon soup, maybe some spinach pies.  this was never the case.  i'd be starving, ready to eat, with zero tolerance or patience left for coming home and cooking a full meal with no prep and probably no ingredients.  so i'd just stop at taco bell.  or chipotle.  or dominoes.  anything but healthy food.  in addition to being bad for the waistline, this system was a boon to my organized mind.  i figured there had to be a better system, something to organize my dinner plans and my grocery shopping.

    enter meal planning.  now i make a conscious effort every weekend, usually sunday mornings pre-shopping trip, to meal plan.  i'm picky and a creature of habit so i make it easy on myself and go with the same breakfast every day.  not to mention that i can barely function before coffee let alone cook... anyway, then i plan something for dinner each day and plan to have the leftovers for lunch (extra large dinner/leftovers on the days i know john will be over) and make a corresponding grocery list.  i shop on sundays and spend sunday afternoon prepping whatever i can and usually throwing something in the crockpot.

    i started meal planning on paper, which really is a great way.  there's a lot of printables and tips for keeping you organized and thus more likely to stick with it.  but i found that a paper system was a little hard for me, because i'd have to constantly reference pinterest and make a lot of grocery lists on one pad of paper with a vague menu list in my planner.  i got a little overwhelmed with all the different places information was being kept so i decided to go digital.

    i'm currently mainly using plan to eat.  there's a ton of eating plans out there, but i'll tell you why i went with this one (because yes, there's a fee - like most online meal plans.  edited to add: the fee is $5 per month or $39 per year, you get a 30 day free trial to test it out first.)  it came down to the facts that (a) i'm a very picky eater, (b) i'm a lazy cook and grocery shopper, and (c) i've pinned so many good things, i can't waste them!  most of the other meal plans give you a set 2 week menu, with recipes and corresponding grocery lists.  they usually have options for vegetarian, low carb, low calorie, etc.  which is great - but you can't swap out a recipe.  some vegetarian menus still have fish items, some have tofu, both of which i hate.  i just have to cross those out on my own and add in my own recipes and adjust the shopping list accordingly.  uh... isn't that what i'm paying them for?  likewise if a recipe is too complicated with lots of ingredients, i just won't do it.  can't swap those out either.  can't swap in all those things on pinterest i want to try.

    so i went with plan to eat.  you add your own recipes!  first you install a little bookmark and just click it any time you're on a blog page with a recipe that you got from pinterest and it does all the work - it finds the ingredients and directions and a photo and uploads it all to your recipes.  i've found it worked perfectly on about 85 out of my 95 pins.  the others i just entered manually, but it was simple.  plus i can put in my own recipes that way, like my mom's dumpling soup or dad's pasta sauce.  then you go to your calendar view.  you add your recipes to whichever day, how ever many weeks, and it'll compile your grocery list.  so similar to the other meal planning sites, except i get total control over my entire menu.  have i mentioned how fond i am of total control?  plus i can get my list on my phone and check stuff off as i walk around the store.  everything is in one place, from the shopping trip to the final product, and i love that.

    for now at least, that's what's working for me.  obviously it'd be better if it were free, but in the end it's a lot of work that's done for me, so i really like it.  how do you meal plan?

    8 Fabulous Valentines

    February 10, 2014

    john has a self-professed man crush on finnick so he's definitely getting that last one.  i know a lot of people are so sour on valentine's day but... it's still fun to me!  hunger games valentines for everyone!

    10 Best // Boozy Bath Products

    February 6, 2014

    my best friend sarah is a faithful reader of my blog (and promoter, she always tells people about it.) so when she suggested this as a topic one day, i ran with it.  just for her.  and for you all because seriously - pampering products made with booze.  i couldn't believe it existed either, but she told me about wine bubble bath and we just had to see if more things existed.  and boy, do they!

    normally i talk a little about each of my 10 best but this time, why bother?  i'm too busy stocking up on beer chapstick!  happy friday.

    The Famous Snowy Bear

    February 5, 2014

    this, my friends, is Snowy.  placed atop his perch on my bookcase.  you know i don't capitalize anything on this blog, from john to hawkeye, so you can just pause for a moment and take in the fact that i capitalize Snowy.  he deserves that kind of respect.

    like myself, Snowy is 29 years old.  i'm not sure what the human to stuffed animal years conversion is, but he's definitely more than 29 in stuffed animal years.  because here's what we looked like as wee babes.

    (can we talk about just how early i perfected my 'ugh. peasants.' face?)

    Snowy is well-loved.  as you can see, all the gloss on his eyes rubbed off, all the white scratched.  the leather that once covered the nose is long gone.  his fur is missing in quite a few spots, you can't read his tag, and there might even be a hole or two (that will never been sewn, because how would you like a needle stuck in your neck?!)  he's not exactly white any more nor is he quite the regal fluffy bear he was in his youth.

    Snowy was a gift from my dad when i was born.  he even bought two, in case something happened to the first one, and junior still resides at my parent's house, in pristine condition.  and despite many things having happened to Snowy over the years, he's always made it back safely by my side.  disney world was especially rough on Snowy.  apparently he fell out of the stroller and it was miles away before my mom noticed.  but mom retraced her steps and found my ever faithful bear, which someone had placed to the side.  the next day, goofy tried to run off with Snowy at character breakfast, and i screamed  a bloody murder scream that was probably heard all the way back here in illinois.  i still hate goofy with a passion.  and character breakfast, for that matter.

    Snowy has been everywhere.  florida, las vegas, niagra falls, west virginia, kentucky, wisconsin, germany, india.  he's been to arlington race track, harvard, the state fair, the kentucky derby, the super bowl, disney world.  he's been in a bar, a tent, a sorority house, a dorm, a hotel, a movie theater, a courthouse, a frat house, a bank, a car wash, a diner.  he's seen pool parties, dance recitals, birthdays, christmases, graduations.  he's been chewed on by dogs who are no longer with us.  he's endured every fad toy from american girl dolls to pound puppies to polly pockets and outlived them all.  he's gone from kindergarten to college, and he's slept in my bed every night until i was 19 and only because i'm afraid he's too delicate now.

    he's the single thing i'd never fail to save in a fire.  Snowy cannot be replaced.  is that an irrational attachment to something?  maybe.  but Snowy is hands down the most faithful and constant presence in my life.  he'll be on his perch forever.  until, you know, he's buried with me.

    I'm Either Going To Jail Or Hell, I Can't Decide

    February 4, 2014

    if i could never grocery shop again, i'd be the happiest person alive.  it's not that i mind the actual picking out of items and paying - if i had the store to myself, i'd stay there for hours.  but as hard as i try to shop only during off hours, it's inevitable that i'll run into at least one of my least favorite people alive:

    people actively shopping in the checkout line.  i can understand running back for that one item you forget.  it happens to the best of us.  but that's it.  you get one, maybe two.  if you're constantly running back for things you forget, get out of line - you are not ready to checkout.  there's people behind you, and if the poor cashier started your order, she can't just 'take the next person' each time you run back for yet another item so all those people just wait while you run around the store repeatedly.

    people who aren't ready to pay.  you just stand there, watching them scan your items, and you can't be bothered to get your money/credit card out?  you have to wait until every item is scanned, then dig around for your form of payment?  did you think a grocery fairy would fly by and your groceries would be free?  no.  you have to pay for them, asshole.  just like every other time.  and god help you if you rummage around in your bag looking for correct change for 94 cents.  or even worse, pull out a checkbook and don't have the store name filled in yet.  you knew you were coming.

    people in the 15 items or less line who can't count.  the looks you'll get from me if it's more than 15 could probably spark a small kindling fire.  i really love it when kids count how many items the person in front of them has - that's the only time i like children.  when they're screaming "but mommmm he has 24 items!! it says 15!!"  makes me want to buy them the ice cream they were crying for in aisle 12.

    and the two things that just baffle me, every single time:

    why is your cart in the middle of the aisle if you're not moving?  everyone stops to look at the shelves, compare prices and ponder brands.  you're not alone in this.  what you are alone in is the fact that you're the only asshole who stops dead center, with your cart, so no one can pass you on either side.  i'm sorry you're of the opinion that grocery store aisles are akin in width to the mississippi river, but i assure you that they are not.  they are two carts wide so move over.  i can't believe that you don't witness everyone else doing this.  they move their cart to one side of the aisle, as close to the shelves as possible.  they also keep an eye on it so they can move if they realize they are in someone's way.  common courtesy doesn't just halt while you ponder which can of kidney beans has the best price per unit.

    put. the cart. away.  okay fine, so you don't want to return the cart to the store.  let's pretend for a minute that you didn't just spend all that time pushing said cart around the store and the fact that you can't be bothered to now walk 50 more feet to return it to it's home is legitimate.  (and let's be honest, you're the people who scope out the nearest-to-the-door spot, so 50 feet is a generous estimate.)  at least return it to the cart corral.  yes, that's what those metal things are that take up two parking spots every other row.  it's a place to hold the cart until some poor employee can trek out there to retrieve it.  so now you only need to walk 5 or 10 feet, instead of 50.  and you can't even do that.  instead, you leave in the parking spot next to your car.  adding more work for the employee fetching carts, taking up a parking space (one close to the door no less, let's not forget how you chose your spot), and basically guaranteeing that it'll roll away with the wind into some poor rule-following sucker's car who tried so hard to avoid your shenanigans.  i've even seen you just push it away once it's empty, letting it roll down the row without a care in the world.  i assume you kick puppies in the time you saved not returning your cart properly.  oh and of course, you people who do this, you're the first ones to whine when there's no carts available at the store entrance, as if it's by some magical happenstance the carts just ended up scattered willy nilly around the parking lot.  i hate you.

    peapod for life.*

    *that's a lie, i live directly across the street from the grocery store, i can't justify peapod.

    Who Knew? I'm Pretty Skilled

    February 3, 2014

    sometimes, i really wish i was good at certain tasks - creating new recipes, parallel parking, diy projects, decorating my house by season, putting together fancy outfits, painting my nails.  but the fact is, my talents just so clearly lie elsewhere.  elsewhere meaning 'things that don't actually matter':

    i wrap perfect packages and tie perfect bows.  wrapping paper with no edges sticking out, perfectly folding corners, no tape on the actual gift.  and i can tie the perfect tiffany bow - the one where you can just pull one end and it comes undone so you don't have to cut it or untie knots.  my gifts are works of art, truly.

    i can braid and french braid my own hair and other people's hair perfectly symmetrically on the first try.  i thought all girls had this innate knowledge but apparently that's not that case.  it was all the years of dance class.  and probably the years of making friendship bracelets.  but i can french braid my own hair in 2 minutes.  the trick is to do it by feel and avoid looking in the mirror while you braid.

    folding fitted sheets.  admittedly, i had to learn this from a video from martha stewart, but it was worth every minute i spent practicing.  my sheets look amazing now, all stacked up like a linen store display.

    untangling/unknotting necklaces. i'm amazing at unknotting those super thin silver chains with nothing more than my fingers.  even when 10 necklaces get rolled up into a tiny little ball, just give me a few minutes and i'll have them all straightened out.

    though i can't come up with new recipes, i can cook from a recipe perfectly.  i'm a good cook if i have a recipe in front of me.  everything i make turns out perfectly.  it's delicious and exactly as pictured.  but i only like recipes with exact measurements for that reason, i don't do recipes that say 'a pinch' or 'add whatever to taste.'

    i plan amazing themed bar crawls.  i think of every detail and i've been told numerous times that bar golf (and yes, i made those cards myself for everyone) was 'the best time they've ever had.'  costumes, challenges, drink specials, i'm on top of all of it.  i plan bar crawls all the time for fun, i wish someone would pay me for it.

    opening champagne bottles.  i consider this an important life skill, because popping bottles and wasting champagne by fizzing it all over the floor is unacceptable in my presence.

    don't worry, i'm also pretty good at drinking it.

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